I have been told to go to Broad Street Brewing in Reinbeck for years. Literally, years. I’ve always meant to. Reinbeck is only 20 miles down the road. The population is only 1600, and I’m no stranger to a small town. I grew up in a patch of 240 people contently nestled in the middle of a cornfield, tens of miles from the nearest stoplight. I have driven hours one way and back in a single day just to visit a brewery. So I do not honestly know what took me so dang long to get over there.
I walked in shortly after they opened on Friday afternoon. I quickly realized this was a No B.S. approach to brewing. The building was old, the fixtures weren’t fancy, the taproom was pretty small, the wooden fermenting tanks were proudly displayed through clear windows, seating was a combination of bar rails and up-cycled church pews around three tables, and I was not only the youngest person, but also the youngest thing in the whole place. Oh, and everybody knew each other except me. Luckily, I’m pretty comfortable being a stranger in a strangleand.
I grabbed myself a Watson’s Irish Red and pulled up a pew to soak it all in. It became clear that this was the town hang-out on a Friday after work. A few Good Ol’ Boys sat at the bar rail decompressing from the week, talking farming prices and cars. The table in front of me held a couple of middle-aged ladies, laughing over the town gossip, comparing new purses, the margaritas they had had in Cedar Falls the previous week, and plans for the weekend. An old record player was set up on a small bar rail, and a large collection of old vinyls were shelved on the walls amid the board games. The bartender changed what was playing at the mood struck her, until the patrons felt proactive enough to play what they wanted to hear. Since it had been a long week and I’m a sucker for a smooth Irish red, the first beer went down quickly.
By the time my other half arrived to join me, I was ready for the Coo Coo Cachoo, and English style ESB. It had a hint of toffee and caramel, but wasn’t so bitter of a Bitter than I couldn’t enjoy it. We also tried and the Broad Street Wheat and the Sticky Wickett. For being so no-nonsense on their approach to serving patrons, I was extremely impressed with Broad Street’s beers. An excellent variety of beer styles and all had great drinkability. Most beers were only $3 or $4 a pint, a price I will always be willing to pay for a good beer. We also soon learned that it is ritual for everyone to bring snacks on Friday. We felt silly for not grabbing anything, but the other locals handed us a plate of Gardetto’s anyway. There is a special value in people who will share whatever they have with anyone else, even if they’re complete strangers. By 5:30, the place was packed with townfolk ready to start their weekends. I reveled in the sense of community and became a little homesick for my own small town. We gave up our big table to allow the locals to crowd in, but there is no doubt we will be back soon. And next time we will be ready to contribute to the snack potluck.
Broad Street Brewing | 113 Broad Street Reinbeck, IA | 319.350.0749